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Darklands follows journalist Frazer Truick as he investigates the mysterious death of the brother of trainee journalist Rachel Morris. Delving deeper, Truick becomes convinced that the tragedy was murder, committed by a bizarre religious cult. But as the evidence unfolds, things take on a more sinister and potentially lethal significance for the reporter, as he becomes embroiled in devil worship, witchcraft and ultimately human sacrifice! Written by
Not for nothing has Julian Richards' assured debut been dubbed the Welsh 'Wicker Man'. The writer-director readily acknowledges it's debt to the 1973 horror classic. In his least action orientated role to date - Craig Fairbrass plays Frazer Truick, a Welsh-born, London raised journo whose investigations into a young steelworkers death suggest links between the industrial 'accident', fervent nationalist politician David Keller (Jon Finch) and an uppity group of Celtic neo-pagans. Truick's nose for a story and lust for the dead girl's beautiful sister, trainee journo Rachel Morris (Rowena King), soon have him knee deep in desecrated churches, slaughtered pigs, crazy priests and a revivalist political conspiracy. Anyone familiar with 'The Wicker Man' or 'Rosemary's Baby' will quickly guess that what Truick thinks is a light at the end of the tunnel is in fact an oncoming train. That said, what the film lacks in narrative riginality, it makes up for in imaginative execution, despite the limitations imposed by a £500,000 budget. Richards' confident direction and cinematographer Zoran Djordjevic's atmospheric visuals are complemented by a score that effectively blends Test Department's percussive industrial noise with gentler Welsh folk songs. By juxtaposing the scary intensity of ancient pagan rituals with the grim beauty of a modern post-industrial landscape, 'Darklands' draws upon evocative pre-christian imagery while also hinting at a more serious socio-economic subtext. Together with 'Twin Town' and 'House Of America' this confirms the recent revival in Welsh film-making.
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